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May 23, 2011
CoreLogic’s Annual Storm Surge Report Reflects the Times
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

CoreLogic’s Annual Storm Surge Report Reflects the Times

By Susan Smith

New Orleans Parcel Maps

In a recent interview with Dr. Howard Botts, executive vice president and director of database development for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions, information and geospatial technology solutions, he spoke of the annual update of the company’s storm surge report and what those enhancements look like. In keeping with the times, the storm surge report includes 1) the huge dollar exposure – the $300 billion in residential areas that would be affected by storm surge and hurricanes in the coming hurricane season, which is predicted to be a more active season, 2)  the storm surge vs. FEMA flood zone information, 3) is the change the U.S. Army Corps of

Engineers has implemented in New Orleans for category 1 and 2 hurricanes is going to provide a lot more protection in the greater New Orleans area.

GISWeekly: Can you explain the importance of these developments?

Howard Botts: What we’ve done is annually we update our surge report, this year the biggest single change was the Army Corps of Engineers finishing the levee and other projects for the storm surge barrier in New Orleans. The biggest single change was the completion of their storm reduction project – that had a significant impact in reducing the number of houses exposed to extreme risk in the area.  The other thing is that we’ve gotten a lot more parcel information between this year and last year and enhanced property values and we’ve expanded the geographic coverage of the particular cities we looked at, to give a more

comprehensive look at Mobile, Ala for example, the entire urban area, or the Miami to Palm Beach area. We extended that out to the counties, the dollar value exposure went up in virtually every market.

New Orleans change 2010-2011

The other significant change we made this year as reflected in the report, was looking at a comparison of properties in each market that were in a storm surge zone or in a FEMA 100 year flood plain. What we’ve discovered working with lots of clients is there is a false perception on the part of homeowners that if they’re not in a FEMA 100 year flood plain that they would have to get national flood insurance in order to get a home mortgage and...they are safe from coastal flooding issues. In fact we found they couldn’t be more wrong. If you take Virginia Beach as a most extreme case, where 87% of the residential properties in the greater

Virginia Beach area are in a surge inundation area that are not in a FEMA flood plain zone. Only a very small fraction of the people in that market are actually protected by national flood insurance.  A lot of insurance companies that use our data are mentioning to customers that they are in a surge risk zone and that you may want to consider buying national flood program insurance which is very inexpensive if you’re out of the 100 year flood plain. Of all the takeaways in this report this is most striking.

Virginia Beach 3D view

We’re talking about huge numbers of properties in this case, Virginia Beach would be 253,000 properties that are exposed to surge but not in a flood zone. You find that’s the most dramatic – Tampa is another 177,000 properties are exposed, Long Island almost 200,000. I would’ve thought there would have been more correlation, but they are significantly different.

The other big change we’ve seen, that started with Katrina but was reinforced by the recent Japanese tsunamis, was the greater awareness on the part of oil and gas utilities as to their vulnerability. A lot of them started to use our datasets to evaluate enterprise risk management; in particular what parts of infrastructure of an area will be damaged by storm surge, what areas are going to be inaccessible? Do we have power production or oil storage adjacent to water which would be impacted? Do we have enough mediation around those seawalls and other things that would prevent critical infrastructure or things that would be potentially high pollution sources

from being damaged or destroyed?

GISWeekly: Will you build something more specific to those who are outside the floodplain?

HB: We have probably four groups of end users. We have both datasets -- CoreLogic is the largest provider of flood certification. We have all the FEMA flood zones and we work with the majority of the mortgage companies to do the flood certification when you buy a property. So we have the most up to date FEMA flood zone data and then you marry that with our storm surge inundation data. Together that really provides a property by property level because we’re modeling this very granular 10 x 10 meter or 30 x 30 meter so for any individual property we can tell you are you in or out of either of those. So our end users will utilize this to then either

build proprietary models to evaluate their exposure or they will work with individual customers to make them aware of the big incentive for insurance companies.

When we look at property and casualty and homeowners, they do not cover flood waters as part of your homeowner policy and they thought that would give them a level of protection from non-wind damage in hurricane. Even though they were telling the homeowner that storm surge was what knocked your house off and destroyed your home and now you have only a slab, and that they won’t cover it. This has caused a lot of ill will where people believed it was wind not water that destroyed their homes. So insurance companies are now saying we know your house is at risk and we won’t insure it, but the federal government will insure it through their program

insurance. That’s the major place where I see end users utilizing our data. More and more we’re finding out insurance companies we work with want to provide mitigation recommendations to customers. There’s often the sense that companies are looking at ways to increase rates, but given the softness of the insurance market these days most companies would rather work with the insureds and try to minimize the likelihood of damage. It is really only possible by the fact that we can identify risk at the individual property level.

GISWeekly: What role then is mapping playing in this?

HB: It’s huge. In the insurance space probably about 99.9% of our end users never see a map, it’s all automated spatial processes so you use all the processing power of a GIS, you just don’t get a map. Then for one/tenth of 1 percent which may be exceptions, they do want to see a map. The real power is in the spatial metaphor -- being able to drill down through all these different layers and extracting out what the risk is, and they feed those directly into real time pricing and quoting that deliver rates.

None of this is possible without GIS and geospatial processing.

GISWeekly: You’re using FEMA maps and other kinds of sources for the maps for the base database?

HB: For our storm surge datasets we’re talking about here, that’s a completely modeled dataset that we build and we look at offshore characteristics. We model hurricane speed, atmospheric pressure, a wide variety of things and then look at ocean bottom depth and we figure out the maximum amount of water that’s to be pushed up on shore. For the onshore piece we use digital terrain models. We use information on levees, railroad barriers, and other things. Most of the data we derive from this will generate internally now for flood certification. That’s really a government defined process where FEMA works with the local entities and

does engineering studies to find the 100 year flood plain. In that case the government defines what the boundaries are, so in that case we would use FEMA data and we convert it to our particular models.

Everything is a combination of a number of different data sources, so we can combine and model for whether it is earthquake, wildfire, flood, and other hazards.

GISWeekly: How often is the FEMA data updated?

HB: Literally every day.

All communities in the U.S. are redoing their FEMA flood maps. In addition, all individuals have the right to protest that and so they have letters of map modification and those will come in where an individual will say I’m not in the 100 year floodplain so will you show me. They hire their own engineer and go through a process to adjudicate that. Besides the maps themselves, you have all these individual things that are changing on a daily basis as people petition to get out of the flood plain so they don’t have to pay the higher flood rates. That’s a very dynamic data set that is maintained in our Austin, TX office, I’m working out of Madison, Wisc.
That’s where we build all our hazardous risk datasets; that would be hurricane storm surge, wildfire risk, earthquake risk, damaging winds and hail.

GISWeekly: What other maps do you produce, with regard to high risk areas?

HB: We produce maps that show areas of tornado probability. Those are used to basically figure out which properties are in high risk areas for pricing. We do go back into these areas after the events and use those to recalibrate the models to make sure we’ve done it, we don’t maintain the active footprints. We’re more interested in looking at the probability of the event occurring. We take a long historical record but certainly look at individual events to make sure our maps are depicting it accurately.

Top of the News

NAC Geographic Products Inc. announced the release of Universal Geocoding Solution for the Entire World as part of NAC Real-Time Geo-Services Suite. With the subscription of the suite, web applications now can obtain the geocode of every location on the planet, no matter whether the location has street address or not, thanks to the power of the Universal Address.

Mapfusion announced the launch of its new product, MF API, an Application Programming Interface that gives you easy access to a large storehouse of data that can be represented on a geographic map.

  • Visualize your data on a geographic map:  easy-to-use JavaScript API returns a map result over the Internet in seconds.
  • No programming necessary: Mapfusion has done the work for you. Sample application and code snippets will have you up and running in minutes.
  • No need to purchase geo-location software: the API works over the internet and delivers your results on any web-browser using every device from mobile to desktop.
  • No implementation required: With Mapfusion API, you don't need to install any software to use it. Simply paste in code and you get your results.
  • Working in close collaboration with the US Department of the Interior (DOI), Esri is pleased to announce the release of Landsat image services. These provide access to almost four decades' worth of Global Land Survey (GLS) Landsat data developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and DOI's US Geological Survey. Esri provides access to the full multispectral, multitemporal Landsat data for free on ArcGIS Online as dynamic image services.

    Optech Incorporated announced the latest addition to its innovative new line of multi-beam airborne imaging systems, the ALTM Pegasus HD500. 


    Havok, provider of interactive software solutions for simulation and characters in the games industry, is announcing its collaboration with TerraSim Inc., a developer of advanced software solutions for geospatial technologies. The alliance will enable the research and development of new capabilities which will link Havok’s industry-leading simulation technologies to TerraSim’s rapid generation of correlated virtual, constructive, and serious game environments from geospatial source data.

    Trimble announced that it has acquired privately-held MyTopo based in Billings, Montana. MyTopo is a provider of print and digital maps for outdoor enthusiasts. The acquisition expands Trimble's ability to offer unique map content and new outdoor-centric products while simultaneously enhancing its popular mobile apps—Trimble Outdoors, AllSport GPS, Geocache Navigator, Cabela's Recon Hunt, and Backpacker GPS Trails. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    NavCom Technology, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Deere & Company, announced that it has formed a strategic partnership with Anka Geographic Information Technologies Industry Trade Ltd. Co. (Ankageo). As a member of NavCom’s Global Dealer Network, Ankageo will bring NavCom’s GNSS product and positioning solutions, including the recently released SF-3040, StarFire/RTK GNSS Pole-mount Receiver, to the Turkish market.

    CoreLogic announced  the completion of its previously announced acquisition of RP Data Limited effective May 13, 2011, in Australia.  CoreLogic, which had previously held a 40-percent equity interest in RP Data, acquired all of the outstanding shares of the company.

    RapidEye, announced that Inta Spaceturk of Ankara, Turkey has signed a distribution  agreement to sell RapidEye products throughout Turkey.

    Trimble announced that it has acquired seismic survey software provider Dynamic Survey Solutions, Inc. of Essex, Vermont. The acquisition is expected to expand Trimble's presence in the seismic survey industry. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    Ordnance Survey has chosen Dotted Eyes and FME to improve their data quality and consistency. Through an Enterprise License Agreement FME will support the creation of new and innovative data products by Ordnance Survey.

    ISC and Tribridge, two Microsoft Gold Partners, announce a new partnership to provide a complete 311 government call center solution for ISC’s HeyGov! product and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Through this partnership, ISC and Tribridge have developed a world-class 311 call center solution with a web-based citizen service portal, mobile apps, telephony integration and more for government customers in the United States.


    A bill to develop a current, accurate Federal cadastre to inventory all Federal real property has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, earning praise from MAPPS (www.mapps.org), the national association of private geospatial firms.

    The Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform ("FLAIR") Act,

    H.R. 1620, was introduced April 15 by U.S. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rob Bishop (R-UT), and four other bipartisan cosponsors.

    An accurate inventory of land owned by the Federal government has been recommended by the Government Accountability Office and the National Academy of Sciences. The FLAIR Act implements these recommendations, as well as calls for an inventory of existing inventories to eliminate duplication and save tax dollars. In testimony before Congress, then-Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton said the Interior Department alone operates more than 100 different property management systems.

    Latest research from Cambashi into technical software application spending indicates that, in 2011, worldwide recovery is likely to be fastest in the aerospace and defense and the process and utility industries. A significant factor is the recovery and reinvestment funding that is supporting many infrastructure programmes around the world. Technical software applications cover AEC (architecture, engineering & construction), geospatial (GIS) and manufacturing (CAD/CAM/CAE and PDM/PLM).


    Longtime GIS educator David DiBiase joins Esri as the director of education within the company's Industry Solutions division. He succeeds current director, Dr. Michael Gould, who is returning to Europe to manage Esri's education programs in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

    GeoEye, Inc. has appointed Andy Dougherty vice president of Federal Information Services, Business Development. Dougherty joined GeoEye on May 6, 2011 and is based at the Company's headquarters in Herndon, Va.

    Spatial Energy announced the appointment of Dr. Richard Eyers to the newly created position of Vice President, Global Geoscience Solutions.

    New Products

    NAVIGON AG, a provider of mobile phone on-board navigation,  announced a major free update for its Android navigation app,

    MobileNavigator. The app is now compatible with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), turning smartphones and tablets into premium navigation devices comparable to standalone units. The latest version has several new features designed to help drivers throughout their entire trip, such as live weather information and a new function which can assist in finding parking spaces at the upcoming destination.
    In addition to its existing USA version, NAVIGON also launches a North America version, which contains maps for both the U.S. and Canada, in conjunction with this update. MobileNavigator on the Android platform is the most feature-rich Android navigation app available and boasts premium functions such as on-board NAVTEQ maps, Traffic Live, Lane Assistant, among others.

    Pitney Bowes Business Insight announced the launch of the Pitney Bowes

    EngageOne Liaison self-service solution, a comprehensive set of customer self-service and self-care capabilities. This solution is comprised of best-of-breed customer and data analytics, billing intelligence, and electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP), with the ability to access all of these capabilities on a mobile device. A new online component of Pitney Bowes
    Business Insight’s EngageOne communication suite, EngageOne Liaison empowers businesses to deepen relationships and engage with each of their customers as individuals by providing a highly personalized experience across channels. Companies can use EngageOne Liaison to improve customer profitability, reduce churn, improve cash flow, accelerate time-to-market and reduce operational costs to ultimately drive revenue.

    Avenza Systems Inc., producers of MAPublisher cartographic software for Adobe Illustrator and PDF Maps for Apple iOS, is pleased to announce the release of Geographic Imager 3.3 for Adobe Photoshop. This release is fully compatible with Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1, which is also known as Adobe Photoshop 12.1 in Adobe CS5.5, as well as Adobe Photoshop 12.0.4 in Adobe CS5.

    Navmatica announced  the launch of new services for geometric calibration and validation of airborne mapping cameras. Services include In-situ camera calibration for analog and digital mapping cameras and independent accuracy validation of map products produced by airborne cameras.

    TomTom, supplier of navigation products and services, extends its portfolio of real time traffic products for the United States market to industry partners. By expanding coverage of these real time traffic products to the U.S., TomTom will enable its industry customers in hardware, wireless, enterprise and government markets deliver solutions based on the most accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date traffic information.

    Award winning geo-data service provider Europa Technologies has announced a major update to its comprehensive range of global map products.

    The 2011.1 release will benefit international clients including insurers and telecom companies who require consistent, definitive global data with extensive support for localisation.

    Europa Technologies’ renowned portfolio, as used by Google and other popular Internet-based map services, is ideal as a global Spatial Data Infrastructure (gSDI) for any international enterprise.  Global Insight Plus is the most widely deployed political world map in history, having reached more than 1 in 10 of the world’s population.

    Around the Web

    GISCafe Today Blog


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    Date: May 25 - 26, 2011
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    Date: May 30 - June 2, 2011
    Place: Czech Technical University in Prague

    Czech Republic

    The network of remote sensing institutes and laboratories in its 31st offering is keeping up with the principal activities that they stand for – stimulating and promoting education and training related to remote sensing and Earth observation, initiating and co-ordinating application-oriented research, forming a bridge between technology and applications of interest to the wide user community, assisting the sponsoring agencies in the development of new sensors and systems and in any technical matters of relevance, providing a network of experts for the agencies in Europe, carrying out
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    Date: May 30 - June 1, 2011
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    The Premier GIS and Geomatics Conference in Western Canada!

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    Date: May 31 - June 2, 2011
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    Date: June 1, 2011
    Place: USA

    Join CartoPac Field Solutions as we chat with Mark James, GIS Analyst with Chesapeake Midstream, about how their GIS and Survey groups executed a project to standardize asset field data collection and provide a direct connection to import that data into the enterprise geodatabase. With over 12,000 miles of pipeline to be verified using in-house resources and contract surveyors, it was vital to create a standard data storage format. Additionally, the project required the team to minimize the time needed to train existing in-house personnel for data collection.

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    Date: June 8 - 10, 2011
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    Date: June 13 - 17, 2011
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    Date: June 14 - 15, 2011
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    New Delhi, India

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    Date: June 14 - 17, 2011
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    The third largest offshore industry trade show in the world, Brazil Offshore summarizes one of the major successes in the business trade show scenario, presenting a vertiginous growth in terms of exhibitor companies and visitors quantity and quality.

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    Date: June 19 - 25, 2011
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    The SGEM conference considers the questions concerned to the geology and mining, oil and gas, geodesy, photogrametry, remote sensing, cartography and GIS, informatics, geoinformatics, micro and nanotechnologies, water resources, air and climate, ecosystems, soils, renewable energy, environmental protection, environmental economics. Accepted papers will be published into the SGEM Proceedings (ISBN 13: 978-954-91818-1-4) indexed by ISI Web of Knowledge, Web of Science.

    Date: June 21 - 22, 2011
    Place: Centre for Geospatial Science

    University of Nottingham , USA

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    You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.